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Growing Japanese Anemones . . . an easy-to-grow perennial

Growing Japanese Anemones . . . an easy-to-grow perennial

10 minute read

Two Wests & Elliott's Gardening Guide To Growing Japanese Anemones

When growing Japanese Anemones you will be rewarded with tall, elegant, sculptured blooms in a range of pinks (from a delicate blush pink to a rich magenta) or pure white. These popular perennials add a dramatic pop of colour to garden borders, blooming in late summer when many other flowers are starting to fade.

Once settled in to your garden these anemones are robust, being affected by very few pests or diseases, helping to make them easy to grow – and as they are equally at home in sun or partial shade, these attractive flowers are very versatile. The only drawback is how readily they will spread – sending out underground stems ‘rhizomes’ that will put out roots and grow into new plants. So, if you are familiar with the way mint can spread rapidly in your garden, then Japanese anemones spread in just the same way. 

"What's in a name?"
Japanese anemone is the common name for Eriocapitelia janonica, a species of flowering plant from the Ranunculaceae family (buttercup family).

You will also find these anemones called Japanese windflowers – in greek the word ‘anemone’ means daughter of the wind.

They can also be called Chinese anemones – these perennials are actually native to China and were erroneously called Japanese anemones due to an early record of one plant in Japan.  

pink japanese anemones

When Growing Japanese Anemones From Seed Which Varieties To Try
There are a number of Japanese anemone varieties, predominantly species of Anemone hybrida and Anemone hupehensis but also including Anemone tomentosa, and Anemone vitifolia. Here are some of the varieties we would recommend:  

  • Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’ – with large, semi-double, pure white blooms with yellow stamens, this clump-forming perennial flowers Summer to Autumn, and is a tall variety growing to 4ft / 1.2m in height.
  • Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ - flowering from late Spring through to late Autumn this unusual variety has a blue-grey streak on the underside of its white petals, grows to approx. 18in / 45cm in height.
  • Anemone hupehensis var. japonica ‘Spendens’ – gorgeous pale pink flowers with yellow stamens these will grow to approx. 32in / 80cm in height, spreading to 18in / 45cm. Late flowering, blooms will appear between August to October.
  • Anemone hupehensis ‘Praecox’ – deep pink blooms approx. 2½in / 6cm in diameter will appear late summer through to autumn, growing up to 20in / 50cm in height.
  • Anenome x hybrida ‘Konigin Charlotte’ – with masses of large, pink, cup shaped blooms on wiry stems up to 5ft / 1.5m in height, these award winning, semi-double blooms will appear between August to October. 

Growing Japanese Anemones In Your Greenhouse 
Growing Japanese Anemones can be done from seed, from plug plants, from bare-root plants or can be purchased as plants in pots - from smaller plants in 3½ inch pots through to larger plants in 2 to 3 litre pots.

Seeds, plug plants and bare-rooted plants will all need looking after in your greenhouse until they are large enough and sufficiently robust to survive outside temperatures and conditions.

Whilst your larger potted plants will be able to be planted straight into their new home in your garden.

stunning pink japanese anemones

Transplanting Your Growing Japanese Anemones Outdoors 
When planting Japanese anemones outdoors this can be done either in the Spring or the Autumn as they prefer the soil to be moist and warm to help them settle in.

They do best when grown in rich, fertile soil so before planting out prepare your ground by digging in organic matter, such as garden compost, remembering to prepare a largish area not just the planting hole.

When you are deciding where to position your Japanese Anemones in your garden ideally select a space which has partial shade – although they can be planted anywhere in your garden they don’t like to dry out but also don’t like to be water logged – so well-draining soil is important too.

Growing Japanese Anemones From Plug Plants Or Bare-Root Plants
If you have ordered your plug plants or bare-root plants online, then as soon as they are delivered you need to get them unwrapped and potted up.

With plug plants the advantage is that they should be more economical to purchase than bare-root plants or plants in pots. As they are supplied as ‘plugs’ this means they should have a good root structure so when you pot them up there should be no root disturbance so they can continue growing straight away.

They will need to be kept in a frost free space – so an insulated or heated greenhouse – and should be potted up into pots at least 3½” in diameter so they have room for their roots to grow without being restricted.

With bare-root plants it’s really important that they don’t dry out as that will damage the roots – so once unwrapped stand the roots in a container of moist compost whilst you get ready to pot them up.  

Growing Japanese Anemones Will Attract Beneficial Visitors To Your Garden

Japanese anemones are the ideal addition to a garden if you want to attract wildlife.

Their long-lasting elegant blooms may be attractive to us, these are also highly attractive to pollinating insects like bees – the blooms provide lots of pollen and butterflies, as well as hover flies.  

elegant white japanese anemones

Pests Attracted To Growing Japanese Anemones
Japanese anemones are very rarely affected by pests or diseases but there are a few which you should be on the lookout for, as listed below . . .  

Catepillars – will happily eat their way through the leaves of your anemones. The easiest solution is to pick them off when you see them – but remember to wear gloves when removing pests in your garden as some pests, such as blister beetles, can cause you damage.   

Nematodes – if you see brown, holey leaves on your anemones then this could be as a result of eelworms (also known as nematodes) feeding on them. These 1-2mm long organisms will only cause lots of damage if they are in large numbers. Birds and wasps will usually deal with eelworms for you – but you can remove and destroy damaged leaves if you prefer. 

Diseases Affecting Growing Japanese Anemones

Leaf Spot – easy to identify ‘leaf spot’ is exactly as it sounds, dark, discoloured spots on the leaves of the plant. This type of disease is usually caused by overwatering, high humidity or poor air circulation.  

Powdery Mildew – appearing as a white, dusty coating on leaves and flowers, you will need to remove and destroy any parts of the plants affected. Also keep an eye on your watering – it’s plants suffering from lack of water which are more susceptible to this disease.  

Rust – plum rust affects both plums (as the name suggests) but also anemones. Small yellow spots will appear on the upper surface of the anemone leaves whilst brown powdery patches will appear underneath. You will need to remove affected leaves and allow good air flow to your plants, removing any debris from the ground, if you want this disease not to carry over to the next growing season.

Root Rot – overwatering can cause root rot as can watering soil with poor drainage – too much water basically rots the roots of the anemones as it stops the roots from absorbing oxygen and when oxygen-starved the roots will rot. You need to catch this at the early stages to prevent the disease from killing your anemones.  

The History Of Japanese Anemones 
History can sometimes be complicated, and this is the case when it comes to the Japanese Anemone. Based on their name, you would expect that these anemones originated in Japan . . . however this is not the case!  

Anemone x hybrida and a. hupehensis are both commonly known as Japanese anemones, with both looking similar, however ‘a. hupehensis’ means ‘hailing from the Chinese province of Hubei’ in Latin, with Hubei being where this species grows in the wild.

So, if that it the case, and these anemones originated in China, why have they been given the label of ‘Japanese’?

Pink Japanese Anemone Flowers

The reason is that a form of a. hupehensis escaped from cultivation and became widely naturalized in China, Korea and Japan. It was this species which Scottish plant explorer Robert Fortune found when plant hunting for the RHS and the East India Company in 1843 in Shanghai.

Rambling over tombstones in a shady churchyard, Fortune collected a reddish-pink, semi-double flowered plant right at the end of his first voyage and brought it back to England. This 19th century introduction into Europe was when these anemones were mistakenly identified as a Japanese native – and their name has remained in use as this plant became a popular addition to a garden.

Japanese Anemones Symbolism
Here we are looking at the symbolism associated with anemones in general (not specifically Japanese anemones).

If we go back in time to Ancient Greece, anemones – remember also called windflowers – were associated with the Greek gods of the four winds ‘Anemoi’, with these four wind Gods being the children of the treasurer of the winds (or ‘keeper of the winds’) Aeolus – with the winds carrying the seeds of the anemone.

If you were wondering . . .
The four wind Gods were Boreas – North wind, Notus – South wind, Zephyrus – West wind and Eurus – East wind.  

However, as with many stories from Ancient Greece, we also see anemones being associated with another God, this time it’s all about the creation of the red anemone flowers which resulted from the death of Adonis, the handsome young lover of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, with anemones springing out of the tears of Aphrodite when the gods killed Adonis in a fit of jealousy.

Anemones have also been believed to symbolize the anticipation of something soon to arrive - based on the flowers natural reaction of closing its petal at night and reopening in the morning - although others believe the closed petals indicates rain is approaching, with anemones bringing luck and protecting against evil in the mind of Westeners. However, in many Eastern cultures it is seen as a symbol of bad luck. 

Another myth associated with the closed petals of the anemone is that fairies are thought to sleep under the petals when they close at sunset.  

Our growing japanese anemones guide has been created from our personal knowledge, information gathered by speaking to other gardeners or manufacturers in the gardening industry, by reading gardening magazines and devouring information from books and the internet. We aim to be as accurate as we can, so if you find a mistake, please remember, we’re only human. if you have any queries you can contact us today!

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